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Addressing the Unique Mental Health Needs of Women
Whether you’re a stressed entrepreneur or an overworked parent, if you’ve faced a mental health issue such as addiction recovery or know someone who is, you likely already know that there is both a physical and a psychological component to these issues. It goes without saying that there must also then be a physical and psychological component to wellness.
What’s not widely discussed is how these components affect each of the sexes differently, with few specifics on addressing the unique needs of women in particular in much of the popular recovery literature. Once it’s understood that this biological difference does exist, finding the right resources to enhance your mental balance becomes easier. Read on to learn more from NEWYORKHER!
Hormonal Effects on Recovery
The female menstrual cycle is certainly a physical difference between the sexes, and while there are plenty of myths out there, the psychological effects caused by the hormones produced during this cycle shouldn’t be ignored. It’s believed that so-called female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone impact the dopamine system in the brain; this means that when it comes to substance abuse, women become addicted faster, and their cravings to be more intense, making long-term recovery more difficult. It’s also possible for some drugs – including some like methadone, which is used as part of the recovery process for certain addictions – to cause a further disruption to the menstrual cycle, impacting the effects of hormones on both the addiction and recovery processes.
While opioids have become one of the major drug crises in recent decades, many who seek treatment fail to realize that methadone is also an opioid that can lead to a new addiction if used incorrectly, making women even more vulnerable to relapse or secondary addiction. For many years, reported rates of addiction in male populations were much higher than among their female counterparts, which contributed to the lack of research on this topic. However, with the gender gap narrowing, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand these differences and increase public awareness.
Challenges to Mental Health Equilibrium
Of course, there are other mental health issues that women face besides substance abuse. For example, many women deal with postpartum depression following the birth of one or more of their children. Mayo Clinic explains that identifying the symptoms of this disorder is very important to determine a course of treatment. Women also tend to suffer from somatic symptom disorders more frequently than men. In these cases, physical pain causes excessive emotional distress, including a focus on the physical illness or injury to an unhealthy degree.
Fortunately, these and other mental health concerns can be successfully treated with talk therapy and/or medication. In addition to mental health disorders, other issues can negatively affect mental health equilibrium for women. For example, a struggle to maintain work-life balance can add to stress and anxiety and exacerbate any existing mental health issues. To establish work-life balance, women can delegate tasks, learn to say no to extra tasks and responsibilities (both at work and at home), and prioritize activities. Also, make your home as positive and free of self-criticism as possible, so that you can adequately rest and refresh.
Ways to Get Moving
Whatever the nature of a woman’s mental health, there are several techniques recommended by experts that may provide a degree of relief other than traditional medical protocols. For example, many physicians recommend women increase the amount of exercise they get, which has been shown to improve the mind as well as the body.
Understanding the specific challenges faced by women is a vital part of conquering them. Overcoming social stigmas and economic barriers presents the largest challenge for women in terms of finding the help they need. Educating the public can help with both by increasing acceptance and funding for research and outreach programs that help women overcome these barriers.
To join a ministry that exists to empower women to live intentionally, visit NEWYORKHER today!